Neglected Diseases (NDs) adversely affect over one billion people, leading to a huge global burden of disease. These diseases are a collection of viral, bacterial and parasitic diseases, which primarily affect low to middle income countries and represent the most neglected ailments of the world. In the last decade a number of large foundations have invested heavily in tackling NDs that affect hundreds of millions of people in the developing world.
While the Big Three—TB, HIV/AIDS and Malaria—have received a great deal of funding, there are many lesser known diseases, from dengue fever to elephantiasis that in some regions create a more significant burden of disease and are treatable. New medical innovations such as drugs, vaccines and diagnostic tests are needed to treat NDs, however the development of such medical innovations is extremely expensive. There is often a lack of a high-income market for some NDs (e.g. certain parasitic infections) and as a result there is a shortfall of new medical innovations for NDs, constituting an ND “research and development (R&D) gap”. In addition, due to monopoly pricing/enforcement of intellectual property rights internationally (and a host of additional issues), many people suffering from NDs do not get access to medical innovations that currently exist (e.g. second-line HIV antiretrovirals). This lack of availability of existing medicines in developing countries is called the “access gap”. Alternative intellectual property and product regulation strategies have been proposed as solutions to/incentives to reduce the R&D and access gaps. The Health Technology Access Policy Project will analyze the feasibility of these strategies to address these gaps. We expect that this knowledge will educate decision makers in both biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, IP firms, government and non-governmental organizations.